Nov. 2, 2022

Leading Through Chaos - A Navy Seal's Advice for Effective Leadership – with Thom Shea – [Ep. 144]

Leading Through Chaos  - A Navy Seal's Advice for Effective Leadership – with Thom Shea – [Ep. 144]

Human flourishing can only truly happen in free societies. America has been the beacon light of freedom for the world because we’ve had leaders who boldly stood for principles that made our nation great. Now many people, policies, and principles are...


Human flourishing can only truly happen in free societies. America has been the beacon light of freedom for the world because we’ve had leaders who boldly stood for principles that made our nation great. Now many people, policies, and principles are causing chaos in our society and true leadership is needed to guide us to stability. Linda interviews bestselling author and Retired Navy SEAL Thom Shea, to discuss Three Simple Things he promotes through his Unbreakable Leadership trainings that will help us all lead our families, businesses, and nation more effectively.

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Transcript

Linda J. Hansen

Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen. Your host and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com. I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs.

 

My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com.

 

Thank you for joining with me today. Many people feel our world is in a state of chaos. It's true. My mission with Prosperity 101 is to empower employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs. That sometimes sounds dry and boring. Yet when one understands the importance of the mission, they begin to see the vision and can lead others to join in the effort.

 

A basic definition of the word prosper is to thrive, to succeed, to turn out well. I think of it as flourishing. Human Flourishing can only truly happen in free societies. And America has been the beacon light of freedom for the world. That's because we've had leaders that have boldly stood for the principles that have made this nation great.

 

Leadership matters. Leaders can create chaos, or they can promote peace. I believe everyone leads in some way. We all have people who look up to us at some level, and how we lead matters. Good leadership does not come from authority. It comes from humility. We must first lead ourselves well before we can effectively lead others. As I encourage people to speak up against the policies and principles causing chaos in our nation, I realize leadership skills are needed. We need strong leaders in families, businesses, and in government.

 

Edmund Burke said the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Leaders take action. Great leaders pray, plan, and prepare first. My hope is that this episode will provide a dose of great leadership to encourage you to be bold and effective. In whatever arena you are called to enter.

 

My guest today will inspire you to learn to lead well. Retired Navy SEAL, Thom Shea, worked with the US Navy for 23 years with distinguished valor before writing his best-selling book, Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL's Way of Life and his latest release, Three Simple Things: Leading During Chaos. As founder of Unbreakable Leadership, Thom has trained thousands of people around the world to overcome chaos by applying the rule of three simple things in their lives and businesses.

 

Thom developed his leadership process and methods during his military career where he served in three wars, ultimately leading a Team of SEALs into Afghanistan in 2009. There, he earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, Army Commendation with Valor, and his Second Combat Action Medal. He was later hand-selected to serve as Officer in Charge of the famed SEAL Sniper Course. Thank you, Thom, for taking time for this interview. Welcome.

 

Thom Shea

That was one of the most well-articulated introductions that I've heard in 10 years. There's nothing else that needs to be said. We could actually just move on. So, thank you for, you know, how you look at things and for the wonderful introduction of my past life. So, thank you for that.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Oh, well, it's a pleasure to have you on the podcast. You know, great leaders are not necessarily born. They're forged I'd say out of trial, tribulation, experience, and a lot of self-introspection. And so, I thank you that you have chosen to lead well, and that you have chosen to bring leadership skills to others. Because, you know, our nation is in great need of leaders, not just people in authority, not just people in office, but leaders who lead with quality and with honesty and integrity. So, as we think about the chaos that is in this nation right now and around the world really, what would you say to people who are looking for leadership?

 

Thom Shea  

You know, Linda, we were talking – or everybody, Linda and I were talking before we recorded about what chaos does to the human being and how leaders can come alongside other people and support them. And I would like to share what I had shared with you, Linda, before. Chaos is not a new thing. It exists everywhere that there's life. Darkness and light exist simultaneously. You can't get rid of one and have the other.

 

One thing I learned in the SEAL Teams is one of the greatest things you can do to defeat the enemy is give them a chaotic experience, which is multiple things going on at once, where they doubt themselves and they want somebody to come in and save them. So, in a chaotic environment, most people want salvation. And they pray for that. Most people want somebody to come in and help them see things clearly.

 

What you can do when you understand chaos is – the greatest way out of chaos is you need to take a step forward. You need to find what I call simplicity in a chaotic environment. What can Linda do right now that she could do? What can Thom do right now? And that's the opposite of what the culture is telling people what to do. Their – if you get browbeaten and you get support not to take your step, if somebody pays your way when you don't have to do anything, it's the easiest way to defeat somebody, is give them a handout.

 

And if you create a chaotic environment, where nobody can do anything easily, then somebody can come in like SEALs and make it seem like I can give you a way out of this environment without you doing anything, then you render the enemy disposed of. So, it's a unique conversation to have, politically or in a leadership conversation.

 

What I know to be true in leaders, there are three types of leaders. One is called managers. They manage something that they were given to keep it stable and above water. They manage a situation they didn't create the situation they manage it. Nothing wrong with that type of leadership style.

 

The other leadership style is dictatorial, where I know the right thing to do, and I have to make sure everybody around me does it the way that I see it. That's called authoritarian. That's called oligarchy, where a few understand what's going on. And they think nobody else knows how to even breathe. Nothing wrong with that style, except that it leaves people in a chaotic situation where they don't want to take action.

 

The other type of leadership is coming along side other human beings and supporting them. However, the people that you come alongside have to be doing something for you to come alongside of. They have to be risk – not risk averse. They have to be wanting to support their family. They have to be an entrepreneur by heart.

 

So, those three styles you see everywhere and the current culture. The current culture wants to favor the second one, where a leader or the government wants to come in and tell people the right thing to do. In the history of mankind, they've never made good decisions ever. One person cannot decide for another throughout the history of man.

 

It's funny that our founding fathers saw that and they tried to move away from it. Then we come back to it because it's just easier for somebody to give me $20. It's easier. It's so much more, “Oh, my God. I don't have to get up and go do anything. But once you take the $20, you are less a human being. The moment you take it, you're less. And that is a travesty of our time.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Well, you bring up some really good points. One about creating chaos. You know that to defeat an enemy, you want to create chaos. And I don't know if any of our listeners have ever read the Art of War. But it's an interesting take on how to defeat an enemy. And it just reminded me of that book when you were talking, you know. And as we look at the chaos in our nation right now, we can see that there is an enemy against America. There is an enemy against the American way of life.

 

And those who want to globalist society, they want American culture to be gone, American Constitution to be gone, the American ideals to be gone. They have definitely hit on every side. They've hit at the family, at the workplace. You know, as you look at the ways that cultures are overthrown, you know, especially when Marxist ideologies come in and there's like seven or eight points, I think it is, to create –

 

Thom Shea  

Yup.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

– a communist society. You know, you get control of the media. You get control of the family, or you separate people by identity, instead of individuality. You separate the families and children. You get control of energy. You control the monetary supply. You control the food supply. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. And so, we see this chaos all around us.

 

And as people, right now, we're recording this in late October of 2022, midterm elections are coming up soon, we know that people are going to go to the polls. They have decisions about who to vote for. They're hearing all sorts of I would say sometimes chaotic messages. We're talking about – you know, we not only have to lead through chaos, we have to discern through chaos. We need to learn how to identify truth from error and be able to have the discipline to seek out truth because the enemies of our culture or the enemies of freedom are never going to make it easy for us.

 

So, just like it was never easy on the battlefield for you, it's certainly not easy when it comes to the battlefield of the mind or the battlefield for individual freedom. So, what would you tell people who are saying right now, they're listening to this saying, “Wow. You know, one, I could never be a Navy SEAL.” I'm sure a lot of us think that. But to how could a Navy SEAL in their mindset – as we go into not only the elections, but you know, how we are going to defend our families and our nation as we move forward?

 

Thom Shea  

It's the exact premise of what we're talking about, Linda. So, being a Navy SEAL is not that difficult. It's not that difficult. It really isn't. You just got to give up any other thing but being a Navy SEAL. You have no more options left, but to continue being a Navy SEAL. That should be everybody's lifestyle that they lead. They should be so committed to living the best version of their life that they don't have another alternative.

 

So, you know, we could bloviate all day long about what we think chaos is and what people should do. One of the truths that happens in the SEAL Teams is what I think every human should live by is a small code. And the code is, “Earn it.” If you didn't earn it, it's not yours. Don't pick it up. If you can't shoot the gun, don't pick it up and teach it. Earn it and earn it at a high level. So, if you think you're good at something, you got to prove it every day.

 

That earn-it mentality was supposed to be the American experiment. This is yours. Don't steal from other people. You can do that for a while. But it doesn't give you any satisfaction. Taking something that's not yours – it’s cool to drive somebody's Porsche down the street and act like you're rich, but you get found out eventually or you wreck it. And in the SEAL Teams, "Earn it" is the foundation of it. And as long as you're continuing to earn your life, the Teams embrace you. If you keep pushing and keep learning and keep growing, you'll screw up 100 times, if you're willing to come back the second or the 101st time. The community constantly loves you. That's what our culture should be like.

 

I hope you fail a thousand times. I hope students fail. I hope they never get first place ever. I hope they struggle forever. When you take this struggle away, you've destroyed the potential of that human being. And we as a society are taking struggle away from each other. Give it back. Let me fail. Don't give your kids something that they haven't earned. Don't pay your employees to work when they don't work. Give them something to grow into. It's a phenomenal environment when you do that.

 

And you hear these terms called culture or diversity, equity, inclusion, it's a weird conversation to have. I want to bring it up in light of the SEAL Teams. In the SEAL Teams, all you have to do is meet the requirement to be there. Nobody cares if you're Black, Green, Purple, or Pink. They don't care about your sexual orientation. They don't care about that. Can you deliver as an individual and a team member? So, there's diversity everywhere except the weird phenomenon.

 

When you put 2,000 people together, they eventually become homogenous. Because the only way that you and I can take action together is that we kind of do something the same way together. Like if you want to go left and I want to go right, eventually you and I will hurt each other. So, diverse ideas, everybody's equally involved until this point called you can't rise to the occasion. So, they ask you to leave. So – and everybody's included. But they are included in the solution. If you're not willing to go forward together as a team, even if you disagree, you're excluded.

 

And society, everybody thinks they have a point. But I don't want to follow Linda's point. I think mine is more important. Then we never get anywhere. And I never get to add any value to you because I think my point is better. So, I never get to be included because I think I'm right all the time. In the Teams, nobody cares. Nobody cares if you're right or wrong. Can you work together? Can you have humility to put down your point of view to work together? That is the true definition of teamwork. And you don't hear it anywhere in society.

 

Everybody wants to be different. Nobody cares if you're different. You have pink hair. Now you're not on the team. Let's all get pink hair. If it makes us better, let's all get pink hair. If it makes us better, let's all shoot left-handed. If it makes us better, let's all pray. If it functionally makes us better, let's all do it. That's what a team environment will always do.

 

And in politics, imagine if people got along like that. What if I didn't have to make my point today? Whether it be Trump or Biden, they have to be right at the demise of everybody else. And it's crushing to everybody below. It causes chaos, which was our original point.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

It's really an interesting take on how to create a team. And I mean, you were right on in terms of how to create a team. And as I think about our nation, we have equality of opportunity, but not necessarily the same equality of outcome. And that's part of what made America great is that we have equality of opportunity. Anybody can rise and it's like you mentioned the SEAL Team. You know, it doesn't matter if you've got pink hair –

 

Thom Shea  

Yup.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

– or if you are, you know, Black, White, Brown, anything else. If you can meet the requirements of SEAL Team, you know, you can be a SEAL. And I think that in America, we have lost our way a bit with the whole equity line. And it is creating chaos because people are, like you mentioned before, feeling entitled. Like everybody's entitled to the same thing. And we cannot take away the incentive to earn, grow, and produce from one person by giving it to people who do not earn, grow, and produce. It just creates –

 

Thom Shea  

It’s a disease. It literally is a functional disease that a doctor could diagnose it. Like you can take blood from people who are entitled, and their blood work is different. They have less serotonin. They have way too much dopamine. Dopamine is a feedback hormone that if you get a lot of feedback, you have high levels of dopamine. So, people who are entitled have so much dopamine in their system. They don't have to engage. They feel like, “I'm on social media; therefore, I'm engaged. And I'm getting money and I have food. So, I get that level of everything is okay.”

 

People who are struggling, earning their own way have low levels of dopamine. Because they don't get feedback. They're struggling. And that struggle makes them higher levels of serotonin, which is called the leadership hormone. And they rely on each other because they have higher level levels of oxytocin, which is the hugging hormone.

 

A team environment that touches its each other has high levels of serotonin and high levels of oxytocin, and low levels of dopamine until they win. They don't get feedback until they win. So, I call entitlement a disease. It's counterpose to success. And I wish parents would recognize that, teachers as well.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Exactly. Well –

 

Thom Shea  

It's always a parent-teacher conversation. That’s the – our society is based there. Not based in government. Government is way too far removed. And by the time the kids have spent 10 years in an entitled frame of mind, they can't be recovered. So, what we do with our kids is the only thing that matters.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

And that's such a good point, because leadership begins first with yourself, and then, you know, in your family and in your home. And part of the chaos, as we go back to that word, the chaos we see in our nation today is because of poor leadership. And it went – before we were recording, I mentioned to you how I used to tell my kids that I refuse to raise grownup children. I wanted to raise adults, strong adults. And we have a nation that is, in many ways, run by grownup children –

 

Thom Shea  

Oh, yes.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

– who don't understand the value of independence and self-leadership in adulthood. And so, our nation is struggling. And as we turn this into a conversation regarding employers and employees in the workplace, whether you are an employee who might be working for poor leadership in, say, a woke corporation who is stifling your freedom and really your independence, we want you to speak up. But we want you to speak up wisely.

 

If you're an employer, we want you to speak up as well, and help employees to understand these important principles. Not only leadership principles, but then help them understand the principles that allow you to conduct business. So many things that are happening in government today make it very hard for business owners –

 

Thom Shea  

They don’t care about them.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

– to continue to provide for their employees. And it's just making a really toxic workplace and economic disaster. And so, we have to speak up. So, that's why I've created, you know, the resources I have, why I tried to bring interviews to the forefront to help people understand that we can talk about these things. But it takes a bold leadership. It takes a step of leadership to get out of your own comfort zone, to begin to think, “Oh, there might be a way I could address this.”

 

And I noticed on your website, you have some – you had a video on there that you talked about four steps about leadership. And I'm just going to read them.

 

Thom Shea  

Okay. Yup.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

And I'd like you to kind of go into that a little bit because as we think about whether we speak up in the workplace, in the family – of course, the family is the most important place, but then the workplace, you know – but then also, as we deal with elected officials, or maybe there's an elected official listening here. And you need to know principles for how to do your job well. You're seeking how to lead well. The first one is, you said, listen without judgment. And you kind of went into that about how so often we do, we listen with judgment, and you know, we're all guilty of that.

 

Thom Shea  

Oh, terrible. Yeah.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

We come up with our own thoughts while someone else is talking. And we try to think we have a better way or whatever. But we need to listen without judgment. And we can all improve in that. You said speak without drama and succinctly. And I thought, “Hmm. That would really be helpful in every relationship and especially in government.” And number three, you said make sure what you heard is what they said, and what you said is what they heard. That sounds really simple, but it is so often –

 

Thom Shea  

Oh, my Lord. It’s the hardest thing ever.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

It is.

 

Thom Shea  

Ever. We think we heard what they said. It's so far off based. Yeah.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

It is and they think we heard what they said.

 

Thom Shea  

Oh, yeah.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

I mean, I think of every relationship struggle I've ever had or any miscommunication with family, friends, colleagues, it's always been kind of on that point. And so, often we get afraid. We become afraid to kind of speak up or to clarify or, you know, just to speak clearly without drama and succinctly, like go back to number two. It seems like we should circle around two and three a lot, you know.

 

But then you have the fourth one, is take action. You know, once we do these things, there's an action point. And so, for everybody listening, whether you're an employer in the workplace right now, an employee in the workplace, maybe you're just leading your family, or maybe you are now called into government, some sort of leadership role as an elected official, these points are really important for you. So, Thom, would you like to just expand on those a little bit before we close?

 

Thom Shea  

I call it Communication 101. There's no 102. Like, if you can't get through those, I call it four bases like first, second, third, and then home plate. Nobody gets off first base. Nobody gets off first base. Nobody listens to somebody as if they're God. That's what listening without judgment means. Listen to your spouse as if you don't know them. Listen and keep listening.

 

Because great things happen while you listen, not while you speak. And the most important person speaks first. In any meeting, the most important person speaks first. If the boss speaks first, he degrades everybody else, or she degrades everybody else. The boss better speak last. That's the deal. In a meeting, let everybody speak first. That's the key to great leadership.

 

Secondly is freaking stop adding drama and spice to everything. Stop trying to sell something to somebody. Stop being excited when you speak to somebody. Just be boring. Be boring. Like Linda, I'm going to go run six miles today. And I'm going to be on another Zoom call this afternoon. And I pick up my son. I get to go watch my son at practice football. That's boring.

 

But now you and I have a very clear relationship together. Whether you agree with anything that I do, you now know what I'm doing. And imagine if you had shared something succinctly with me. Those are first and second base. Third base is, “Did you hear anything I said? I should stop and go, “Wow. Linda, I talked so much. Did you hear anything I said?” And if you were listening well, you'd say, “Not after the third word that you said. I stopped paying attention and I was thinking about my husband.” That's how people really communicate. I listened for a while, and then I shut down. And then I don't get to what you said.

 

So, great leaders always go, “All right. There's a lot of discussion there. Linda, repeat back to me what I said.” And if you can't, I don't get pissed off. Like, okay, it's so important that I make my point. I want to make sure, Linda, you go to help me pick up my son tonight. You're like, “Wow. I thought you were going to go?” Ooh, now that we communicated it well, I require you to pick me up and take me to my son's football. And that may have been lost in all the communication. So, that's third base. Nobody ever gets to third base. Nobody gets to first. Everybody wants to speak first. So, they degrade everybody else.

 

Home plate is, “Wow. Linda, your podcast inspires me, how you talk and who you involve in it. I also am interested in politics. Can we talk Thursday?” Now, we're in an action state. A simple thing, “Can I call you on Thursday to talk about something political?” I've now listened, I spoke and made sure that you heard me, and I created some action plan. If you can do that, once a day with one other human being, you will create volume at which you cannot even understand. You can do it in business. Do that with your spouse. Let them speak first. And then no drama when you speak. Make sure you understood them. They understood you. And then create some action item together every day.

 

And what – I'd never get out of that – that communication, I usually teach 10 leaders at a time. That Communication 101 takes six hours for leaders to learn how to do that. Six hours because everybody adds drama. Nobody talks honestly about what's going on. Nobody puts on the table humility. “I'm not a good dad.” Oh, now we're getting somewhere. “I'm not a good leader.” Now we're getting somewhere. So, when they – it's a six-hour process. And most leaders think, “Man, I thought I knew how to communicate.” You did and it was ineffective. This is the proper way to communicate. I know it was long-winded. But I'm a big fan of those four steps in communication. And learn them.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

I think that if everybody followed those four steps, our communication with everyone would be much better. You know, our relationships with our families, friends, co-workers would be better. And could you imagine if the media actually did this? Hmm, that'd be interesting. But I think that –

 

Thom Shea  

Yeah. And I don’t have to agree with you. Nowhere in there was there an agreement.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Right.

 

Thom Shea  

I hope there's 10 things there that I totally disagree with. But Linda, I heard you and I repeated them back to you. And I'm left with, “I just kind of screwed up. But I'm not here to fix people.” And you heard all my shenanigans, too, and you repeated it back to me. And it was so interesting. You're like, “Man, can we do this again tomorrow? Because I don't know what was exciting about this, but man, I'm excited. I'd like to do it again tomorrow.”

 

Linda J. Hansen  

We don't learn if we only give to our own opinions.

 

Thom Shea  

Oh, yeah.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

And we're not sharpened, unless we, you know, can defend our own opinions, too.

 

Thom Shea  

Yeah.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Or our own beliefs. You know, that's an important part here. So, I know our time is running short. So, before we close, I do want to let people know how to contact you and maybe get the opportunity to attend one of your leadership seminars or to buy your book or your books. Or, you know, just to contact you. How would you like people to contact you?

 

Thom Shea  

Easiest way is UnbreakableLeadership.com, our website. And we're building out the 23 Schedule, as we speak. Or on social media under Thom Shea. Search Thom Shea and you can usually find all of our social media. My wife and I and my partners are very communicative on there if you reach out to us.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Okay, and I'll just –

 

 

Thom Shea  

Love to share the book with you.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

That'd be great. And I'll just remind the listeners, his first name, Thom has an H. So, it's T-H-O-M, S-H-E-A. So, if you look for him on social media, that's how to spell it. And it's – his website will be a wealth of information for you. You could see where he speaks, and what his resources are. So, you know, as we close this and think about how this conversation can impact people hopefully and encourage us all to be better citizens, we have the opportunity to really flourish in America, but only if we become part of the team in a sense that makes it flourish. So, what would you say, just three solid points for, say, employers in the workplace educating employees?

 

Thom Shea  

People count more than you. Take action every day to better yourself and your team. And breathe, breathe. Don't hold your breath. Not going to be helpful. Take count, take action, and breathe.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

That such a good closing thought. And Dawson Trotman, who founded the Navigators ministry, he often said, “They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So, whether it's an employer explaining insurance quotes, you know, and what the benefit plan is, or whether they're explaining how different policies affect their ability to conduct business. Whatever it is, the employees might not listen, unless they know that the employer cares. And it's the same with every relationship. So, the principles you've outlined have really given us all food for thought. And it’d be great to follow through for every relationship. So, thank you, Thom.

 

Thom Shea  

Thank you, Linda.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

Before we close, just add your website one more time.

 

Thom Shea  

UnbreakableLeadership.com. Thank you, all.

 

Linda J. Hansen  

All right, thank you.

 

Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don’t forget to visit Prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library, to order my newest book, Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free e-book, 10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Paychecks.

 

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